2010/1/13 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:

> You're asserting that neuron I/O replication is the "appropriate level" to
> make "brain behavior" the same; and I tend to agree that would be sufficient
> (though perhaps not necessary).  But that's preserving a particular
> algorithm; one more specific than the Platonic computation of its
> equivalence class.

Any algorithm would do, implemented on any hardware, as long as it did
the job. Ten engineers working independently on the problem would
probably come up with ten different solutions, even if they worked
with the same theoretical model of a neuron.

> I suppose a Turing machine could perform the same
> computation, but it would perform it very differently.  And I wonder how the
> Turing machine would manage perception.  The organs of perception would have
> their responses digitized into bit strings and these would be written to the
> TM on different tapes?  I think this illustrates my point that, while
> preservation of consciousness under the digital neuron substitution seems
> plausible, there is still another leap in substituting an abstract
> computation for the digital neurons.

There is a leap involved in eliminating the hardware but the first
step is establishing computationalism: that in principal you could
replace the brain with a digital computer and preserve the mind. If
the artificial neurons work as described then doesn't that prove this?

The level of the neuron is an arbitrary one. We could instead consider
replacing volumes of brain tissue with a computer-controlled device
that replicates the I/O behaviour at the surface of the volume, where
it interfaces with normal brain tissue, and expand the size of the
volume until the whole brain is replaced. One linear processor could
then do all the work, and it wouldn't matter what processor it was (as
long as it was fast enough and had enough memory), what language the
program was written in, or even what program it was. Multiple
realisability is a basic feature of functionalism.

> Also, such an AI brain would not permit slicing the computations into
> arbitrarily short time periods because there is communication time involved
> and neurons run asynchronously.

The whole brain could be aggregated into one computation, and a
virtual environment could run as a subroutine.

Stathis Papaioannou
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